9 Lifelong Lessons from Swimming the English Channel for Youth Mentoring

9 Lifelong Lessons from Swimming the English Channel for Youth Mentoring

Have you ever chased a dream and succeeded in reaching it? I remember, as a 15-year-old, how I chased a dream to represent my State running Cross-Country, the sacrifices I made, the hard yards I put into training and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I was selected for the State team at the end of my most successful Cross-Country season and then achieved 6th place in the Inter-State race. Trent Grimsey’s story reminded me of those days, as well as the importance of sharing one’s stories with young people. They love true stories!It was a while ago that I listened to Trent, at that time the current world record holder of the English Channel swim, share his story with a group of impressionable young students. Trent described how, as an average swimmer (in his opinion) he had achieved medals and much more as a swimmer, yet narrowly missed out on selection for the 2008 Australian Olympic Team.  Wondering what he should do to stay motivated, Trent decided to swim the English Channel, not just to complete the swim, but to break the World Record. Listening to his story, I felt that there were at least nine lifelong lessons we can all learn from Trent’s experience planning and swimming the English Channel. Always have a clear goal and share it with someone you trust. Trent firmly believed that, when we have a sense of purpose, it is easier to stay motivated and inspired and to live a positive life. As a swimmer, he needed a Coach, someone who believed in him and what he was  setting out to achieve; someone...
The Greatest Life Lesson I have learnt

The Greatest Life Lesson I have learnt

What is the most important or greatest life lesson you have learnt to date? This is a question I have thought a lot about during the past 12 months as I have adjusted to retirement after 42 years as an educator. My response to this question is obvious (to me!), yet equally challenging to live by in a 21st Century increasingly secular and politically correct global community.I pause and look at the current global situation. We are told that the level of poverty is decreasing, yet there are still millions of people living in poverty. The Middle East remains a powder keg which could explode any day. The number of authoritarian, egocentric rulers – dictators would be a better term – seems to be increasing. This means more and more people are likely to be living in oppression, some of whom, who know no other lifestyle, probably don’t even realise this. Ruling with fear is no way to bring about global peace. In 2016 I visited Terezin Concentration Camp outside Prague where I was deeply moved by the drawings by children, most of whom were put to death by the Nazis. I have studied the major world religions in an effort to better understand the make-up of our global community. What, therefore, is the Greatest Life Lesson I have learnt? Men or women with big egos are unlikely to bring peace to the world, as their motives lack the heart of the Great Teaching, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I have learnt that God is good and He is working out His plan; that I have no comprehension of...
Your 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers

Your 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers

If someone asked you what tips you would pass on to them to help them be an encouragement to young people, what would you say? This is a topic I have researched for many, many years and have gathered all that research to produce some short tips to encourage parents and mentors as they journey with young people through adolescence. Indeed, these tips would be relevant for anyone working with young people. So, here are the 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers. 1. Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen more than you speak. 2. Love unconditionally and NEVER quit! 3. Empathise and genuinely affirm their EFFORTS (so you are not seen to be judging character). 4. Negotiate boundaries and be consistent. 5. Apologise sincerely when in the wrong and never publicly humiliate them. 6. Walk alongside them as they explore their career options, always encouraging them to chase their dreams. 7. Catch them doing good and celebrate! It is so important to keep a sense of humour and have some fun. 8. Journey with them through failure to make this a positive learning experience without trying to enforce your values on them. 9. Support their idealism and let them know you believe in them and are their greatest, non-judgmental Cheerleader! 10. Keep envisioning the people they can become. NEVER let go of that vision. Keep reminding yourself that the young person in front of you is trying to find their way during the most confusing time of their lives, while their brains are still developing and they are so conscious of how they look. Be their rock and...
You’ll get noticed when you listen to this teenager

You’ll get noticed when you listen to this teenager

Do you ever wonder why a teenager you are trying to communicate with seems to be on another planet? Most of us have probably asked ourselves that question from time to time. As teenagers journey through their adolescent years and their brains are still developing, they, too, are confused and trying to respond to so many questions they are asking themselves, examples of which might include: Who am I? Where am I going? What do others think of me? Well, perhaps, it’s a good time to pause and allow a teenager to share her thoughts with you which may or may not help your relationships with these young people.I encourage young people to become the best they can be, so their goals and tasks are set by themselves. They then don’t have to compare themselves with anyone else and can simply measure how they are doing against those personal developmental goals. It’s a wonderful self-empowering journey. Like the Kite surfer, many of whom develop their skills in the sea close to where I live, it’s all about practise, practise, practise and persevering so that, in the end,, as neuroscience educator Judy Willis, said, “practice makes permanent”, ie, in this case, the skills are embedded in the brain and so, when the Kite surfer is battling the ocean, he or she reacts instinctively to circumstances as they have trained their brain through practise. As a mentor, parent, coach or teacher, whatever your role might be, the one non-negotiable requirement these days is the importance of face to face communication. There are plenty of reasons for this, most especially because of...
10 Life Lessons to encourage you from my Cancer journey

10 Life Lessons to encourage you from my Cancer journey

Do you know anyone who has been struck down with Cancer? Anyone who might be on that journey at the moment? A young person needing encouragement? I was struck down with cancer at the age of nine and underwent some radiation treatment (2.5 times the adult dose), followed by significant major surgery during the next couple of years and then again when I was 18. My parents were told that I probably had two years to live and, during these two years, my mother died suddenly. Thankfully, I survived the Cancer and now, 50 years later, reflecting on my life journey to date, I happily share 10 Life Lessons that I have learnt, through trial and error, highs and lows, over the years and which helped me through challenging adolescent years as I came to terms with my disfigurement and responded to it. I share these experiences with teenagers I mentor, encouraging them to keep on keeping on through the confusing adolescent years, especially when the odds are stacked against them. Following these key tips has taught me the importance of living a positive life journey filled with HOPE, experiencing unconditional love and care from those closest to me, whilst also feeling valued and, ultimately, leading a life of meaning and purpose with a strong sense of serving others. Anyone who has suffered from Cancer will know the challenges one experiences overcoming times of adversity and enjoying success. Here’s what my life experiences have taught me: Attitude – never forget that you choose your attitude and how you respond to all that life throws at you. The choices you...
‘Gr8 Mates Rox!’ – the power of youth mentoring

‘Gr8 Mates Rox!’ – the power of youth mentoring

“Gr8 Mates Rox!” wrote a student participating in the Gr8 Mates school based youth mentoring program when the first surveys of the trial program were carried out. How positive is that, especially coming from a student who was experiencing low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence when she embarked on her mentoring journey. While there were a few wobbles during the early days of the program as a result of some transient students, the program did settle down and became a wonderful journey of self-empowerment and building relationships between young people and their volunteer adult mentors. On one occasion the mentors from one of the programs accompanied their mentees to a local Careers Market where they had the opportunity to visit a variety of stalls covering many possible careers, places for further study, Apprenticeship opportunities and lots more. Approximately 6,600 students passed through this event over two days. It was easy for some students to waste the opportunity, perhaps even feel overwhelmed by all the information on offer to them, though this was not the case in the situations where mentors accompanied their mentees. One mentor assisted a student with the development of a career plan, offering extra time to take the student to visit a friend of hers to chat about the career this young student had expressed an interest in pursuing. On another evening a mentor accompanied her mentee to the student’s subject selection evening at the student’s school and, judging from the emails that were exchanged after that particular evening, this experience further cemented the mentoring relationship. Another mentor was planning to introduce his mentee to...